NATHAN CLARKE will be a proud man when he leads Town out as captain for the first time against Chesterfield.

The 21-year-old will skipper his club in the absence of suspended Jon Worthington at Saltergate on Saturday and in the following Galpharm clash with Stockport County.

It's a career highlight for the high-class central defender and Clarke is keen to steer Town to the points which could guarantee League I safety.

"It will be a special moment to lead out this club and I really can't wait," said Clarke, who has been with Town since he was nine.

"I was hoping with Worthy missing a couple of games that I might be in the frame to be skipper and it was brilliant news when I found out.

"It's a great honour and, as a Town fan as well as a player, I'll be very proud."

With Town bidding to end a run of six straight away defeats, manager Peter Jackson had no hesitation in handing the armband to Clarke, whose side dropped to 15th in the table last night following Blackpool's 3-2 win at Bournemouth.

"Nathan is one of the best young central defenders outside the Premiership and he deserves this honour because he is well respected among the fans, the staff at the club and his playing colleagues," said Jackson, who was watching a strong Reserves line-up take on Lincoln City at their neighbours United's Ashby Avenue ground today.

"Nathan loves the club and, having just signed a new contract with us, he is keen to progress. This is the latest major step.

"Nathan has got everything in his game to make a terrific career for himself - he's quick, brave and composed on the ball - and he's also one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet.

"Having worked hard to get back to fitness after so many injuries, the captaincy is a timely honour, and he won't let us down."